Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give

Reflecting on dozens of wedding toasts she's heard over the years, Ada Calhoun (St. Marks Is Dead) writes, "Finding something new or helpful to say about marriage feels borderline impossible." Where unspoken rules dictate that wedding toasts focus on the happily-ever-afters of marriage, however, the essays in Calhoun's collection, Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, don't conform to that. That's precisely why Calhoun succeeds in doing what she calls impossible: writing about modern marriage in ways that are new or helpful (or both).

With humor and remarkable candor, Calhoun writes about "soul mates," infidelity, what it takes to stay married and what staying offers in return. Much of her writing is based on her own experiences, which makes the collection intimate and heartfelt (though it also means much of the focus is on straight marriages). Combining the personal with thoughts from priests, therapists, literature, friends and family, Calhoun considers big catastrophes and small moments of joy in equal measure--an accurate reflection of the ups and downs and day-to-day routines that make up any marriage.

Calhoun was once told, "We have to hold so many realities at once: here's me, here's you, here's us, here's the rest of the world." The essays in Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give offer insight into Calhoun's realities: herself, her husband, her marriage. And in exploring how those pieces fit into the rest of the world, Calhoun's essays will prove meaningful for any who have chosen to walk down the aisle--for better and worse. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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